Washington is bracing for a showdown this week between Democrats on Capitol Hill and Attorney General William Barr over his handling of Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe.
But a new dispute is now throwing his expected testimony before the House Judiciary Committee into jeopardy.
Reuters has learned Barr, the country's top law enforcement official, is threatening to BOYCOTT Thursday's public hearing.
Sources say Barr is objecting to the Democrats' request for an additional PRIVATE session with him to review the BLACKED OUT portions of Mueller's report.
House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) REP.
JERRY NADLER, (D) NEW YORK, SAYING: "We've told him we expect him to show up on Thursday and we're going to conduct the inquiry as we said we would.
If he doesn't show up Thursday then we'll have to go to subpoenas." Barr released his redacted version of Mueller's report in mid-April.
The report cleared President Donald Trump of conspiracy with the Russians, but laid out 10 episodes Mueller said showed Trump had tried to impede his investigation, including asking his White House counsel to have Mueller fired.
Mueller stopped short of concluding Trump had committed a crime, noting that Congress has the power to address whether Trump violated the law.
In light of the report, Democrats want to know why Barr himself decided not to pursue obstruction charges against Trump.
The House panel has also asked Mueller to testify.
The dispute comes amid deepening tensions between Democrats and Trump, who has said he will vigorously fight a wave of subpoenas seeking his taxes and financial records, as well as Mueller's full unredacted report.
Barr is also due to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.